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The Forest City Regional School District Board of Education added a new executive-level position to its administrative staff last week. The board also filled an assistant principals slot that had been vacant for a year.
The board tapped Ann Driscoll of Hawley to be the supervisor of special education at a salary of $64,000. Ms. Driscoll will start on November 1 and her appointment is contingent upon her receiving proper certification. One board member said she is certified in New Jersey.
By a unanimous vote, the board appointed Melissa Rose as assistant principal at a salary of $54,000. She fills the slot left open when Ken Swartz was elevated to Elementary School Principal last year.
The board vote on Ms. Driscolls appointment was 7-2 with Directors Al Dyno and Tom Heller voting against it. After the meeting, Mr. Dyno told The Transcript that he would like to have seen more candidates interviewed for the position. He also said he would have preferred having the positions of assistant principal and special ed supervisor combined.
"Its nice to save money whenever we can," he said in defense of his position.
There were two unexpected faculty resignations. Matthew Nebzydoski, secondary social studies teacher and student council advisor, left the district on August 18, and Nora Phillips, science teacher in grades 5 and 6 resigned effective Aug. 11. Both were praised by the board for their excellent service to the district.
Other motions approved by the board at the special meeting included:
Appointing Nancy Brown as the mentor teacher for Janet Adams. Ms Brown will receive $500 as per the contracted Teacher Induction Plan.
Authorizing the following faculty appointments: Christopher Wade to Secondary Social Studies at a salaryof $33,600; Jason Pantzer to elementary teaching position at a salary to be determined; and, Christina Margiaracina, long term substitute teacher in the elementary school at a salary of $33,000 prorated for the first half of the school year.
In athletics, the following appointments were approved: Joe Tasso, Bob Richards and Stanley Vitzakovich, volunteer soccer coaches; and, Christopher Wade as junior high soccer coach at a stipend in accordance with the union contract.
Because the board was conducting interviews to fill faculty positions, the meeting was scheduled for 9 p.m. but the board did not convene until 9:25 p.m.
The August 24 meeting of the Susquehanna boro council was presided over by vice president Mike Matis in the absence of president Ron Whitehead. Council members Roy Williams and Pat Frederick were also absent.
During the previous week, council members and secretary Judy Collins had been busy passing out surveys to residents, the results of which will be used to gather input to be used in preparing next years budget.
Maximum Security Systems has been contacted to receive an updated list of people who have access to the boro building alarm system.
The dog warden has been requested to take immediate action and enforce ordinance No. 419 (dogs are to be leashed or restrained if they leave the boundaries of the owners property).
Permission was given to purchase a (new) tape recorder to be used for recording council meetings.
The boro has received word that a software/hardware grant, obtained through the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, has been approved. A motion carried to approve using the money to purchase an update to the office Quickbooks program, and for additional training for Mrs. Collins in that program, as well as for her to attend a record keeping seminar on September 20.
In response to questions that had been raised about police activity at councils last meeting, Mayor Hurley commented that, when there are questions about incidents, "We act on facts, not rumors." Written complaints should be submitted, or residents can speak with her or Chief Golka, or attend a police committee meeting.
Correspondence included a letter from the SCDA, requesting permission to hold a Pumpkin Fest on October 9 in the area adjacent to the boro building and fire department, and permission to put scarecrows on the light poles along Main St. A motion carried to approve.
In response to a number of complaints about street lights not working, council members Lewis, Bronchella and Matis will conduct a survey, get the pole numbers of the lights that are not working and send the information to GPU.
A motion carried granting permission for the Garden Club to use the boros tax identification number to apply for grant funding.
Under new business, council discussed a letter from the Montrose Minutemen, requesting the passing of a resolution to approve the Minutemen as designated primary dispatch, to cover football games. There was some discussion and several questions, such as whether the local fire company was in agreement with the request. The matter was tabled until these questions could be answered.
The streets department will be temporarily halting the pickup of residents organic debris (branches, leaves, etc.), as the area being used to dispose of it has been getting too congested.
The streets department is still waiting for word from the Housing and Redevelopment Authority regarding grant funding for work on Jackson Ave.; in the meantime, council approved putting out bids for paving work on Columbus Ave. and East St.
A motion carried to approve advertising for bids for heating oil for the boro building for the coming year.
A list of tax exoneration requests was reviewed, with a motion carrying to approve all but five.
Requesting time on the agenda was resident Joe Burke, who wished to make a statement of complaint about three specific incidents involving boro police. Mayor Hurley said that a police issue should be taken care of at a police committee meeting, not at a council meeting, as this was the policy that had been created to deal with such issues. Mr. Matis said Mr. Burke did request time on the agenda, and should be allowed to continue if he wished to.
Mr. Burkes statement detailed three separate incidents. The first took place after 1 a.m. and involved a vehicle that was (allegedly) parked illegally at Mr. Burkes girlfriends home. During this incident, allegations were made by a police officer that Mr. Burke and his girlfriend were involved in drug activity taking place in the cemetery. Mr. Burke questioned the officers intentions in being at his girlfriends home at this time of night and (requested) that the officer stay away from him and his family or a complaint would be brought to council.
The second incident involved a neighbor of Mr. Burkes who was not at home at the time. Two officers were checking vehicles at the property because skid marks had been found on the road. Mr. Burke questioned whether the officers should be investigating something so trivial, especially when the vehicles owner was not at home.
The third incident involved a small party at Mr. Burkes home. Several guests reported that police cars were parked at the bottom of Mr. Burkes driveway. Mr. Burke was not aware that any complaints had been made by his neighbors regarding the party.
Mr. Burke said that he considered this behavior to be harassment, and had heard similar stories from others. It is his feeling that the police force is oversized and poorly controlled; there are too many officers on duty at the same time, and during days and times when they are not needed. He added that the bicycle patrol is an ineffective use of police. He questioned the personality, professionalism and character of some of the officers, and the authority that decides the amount of coverage needed and that is allowing inappropriate behavior.
He expects, he said, that his concerns be addressed and a proactive approach taken to correct the problem. And, he will be monitoring the progress made by council and will continue to pursue this effort.
Mayor Hurley said that she and Chief Golka will look into Mr. Burkes complaints, and will get back to Mr. Burke. She added that a council meeting is not the forum for complaints, the procedure she spoke of earlier should be followed.
Council member/CEO Shane Lewis gave his monthly report of codes activities, and reported that seven Crimewatch signs have been put up; four more are needed so that all entrances to the boro are posted.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 14, 7:00 p.m. in the boro building.
At around 10:30 on the evening of August 25, a white, non-Hispanic female, described as thin, blonde, approximately late 30s to early 40s and about 5 7" tall, presented a counterfeit credit card to the clerk at the Great Bend Sunoco along Route 11 and purchased 30 cartons of cigarettes worth $1,497. After successfully completing the transaction, she entered a red Honda Civic with an unknown PA registration, and drove south on Route 11. A black male, no description available, was a passenger in the car. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
Terry Steel, Montrose, was driving a 1978 Honda MC bike on State Route when it left the roadway and rolled over. Steel received minor injuries in this accident that occurred on August 23.
Between August 20-23, an unknown person(s) broke a window on a PENNDOT John Deere backhoe parked along New York Ave. in Hallstead. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
Ronald Dailey, 44, Thompson, was not injured when the 1999 Pontiac sedan he was driving on Route 171 in Herrick Township went off the road, struck a tree and flipped over. He was not wearing a seat belt in this accident that happened in the early morning of August 20.
A 1992 Jeep driven by Christopher OReilly, 25, Friendsville, was traveling south on State Route 858 in Apolocan Township when it went off the road, struck a ditch and came to rest on the west berm. OReilly was not wearing a seat belt and received minor injuries in this accident that happened in the early morning of August 15.
An unknown person(s) entered a barn belonging to Lloyd Robinson, Dimock Township, and pried open a door that was secured. The person(s) looked around without taking anything, and then pried open a door on a shed. Once inside, the person(s) removed a six-foot Meyers level and a 30-inch Skil chain saw and then fled with scene. Anyone with information about this incident that occurred sometime between August 20-21 is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
Sometime between 10:30 on the night of August 22 and 4:45 the following morning, someone shot out five lights, pried open a gate and then pried open a door on a garage at the Honeywell International/RITZTEX Building off Route 29 in South Montrose. The person(s) then entered the garage and took nothing, but shot out two door windows. The person(s) might have been driving ATVs. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
This accident occurred as a 1969 BSA motorcycle driven by Leonard Aldrich, 56, Susquehanna, was traveling east on State Route 858 in New Milford Township, at the same time a 2000 Toyota Avalon driven by Phyllis Fenenczi, 42, New Milford, was traveling west on the road. Aldrich overcompensated at the curve and drifted into Fenenczis lane, where he struck the left side of her Toyota. Aldrich stayed seated on the bike, which traveled off the road and struck a ditch where it came to rest. Aldrich received head injuries as a result and was not wearing a helmet; he was transported to CMC. Fenenczi was wearing a seat belt and was not injured in this accident that happened early in the evening of August 22.
James Stuart Walker reported his fishing boat and trailer were stolen from his farm in Jackson Township. The boat was later recovered at a residence along Old Route 11 near Hallstead. An investigation is pending in this series of events that occurred between August 1 and 21.
On the evening of August 21, Francis Michael Hodd, 44, and James Edward, both of Montrose, were weaving down a roadway in Middletown Township in an intoxicated condition. Both were charged with summary public drunkenness.
At around 7 on the morning of August 21, Robert J. Balachick, 34, Milltown, NJ, was discovered dead inside his 1996 Ford Explorer parked on T-554 Middle Lake in Harford Township. An autopsy is pending.
On the afternoon of August 16, Brianna Spencer, 16, Little Meadows, failed to negotiate a curve on State Route 4014 in Apolocan Township and lost control of her vehicle. It left the roadway, struck an embankment and rolled over. Spencer and passengers Milinda Card, 16, Apalachin, NY, and Michael Space, 15, Warren Center, received minor injuries and were transported to Wilson Memorial Hospital for treatment by Little Meadows Ambulance and Apolochon Ambulance. Spencer and Card were wearing seat belts; Space was not.
Between August 4-6, an unknown person(s) removed several items from a house trailer along Route 171 in Oakland Township belonging to Irene Woodruff, then fled in an unknown direction by unknown means of transportation. Stolen were a JVC camcorder, numerous prescription drugs, jewelry and cash. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
On the night of August 13, David Cicon, New Milford, violated an active order of protection by appearing at the resident of Glenda Joyce Cicon, New Milford Township.
Sometime between the late afternoons of August 16 and 17, a person(s) entered a Toyota Tacoma pickup belonging to Robert Barnes, New Milford Township, and took a green flashlight, an air gauge for measuring tire pressure, and $5 in change. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
A 1997 Chevy Geo Metro driven by Heather Bolles, 21, Windsor, NY, was traveling west on State Route 848 in New Milford Township when Bolles lost control of the car after going over a pothole, causing it to cross both lanes, leave the roadway and strike a tree. Wearing a seat belt, Bolles was not injured and neither was Bionca Bolles, 2, who was properly secured in a child safety seat. Passenger Melissa Maginley, 20, Windsor, was transported to Wilson Memorial for treatment of injuries to her ankle and elbow. This accident occurred on the afternoon of August 20.
Two windows were smashed by an unknown person(s) on a cabin in Forest Lake Township owned by Daniel James Potte, Terrez, NC, sometime between August 1-19.
Ann Milles, New Milford, either lost or misplaced some of her jewelry at or near her residence in the Green Gables Trailer Park. Three rings are missing. Anyone with information is asked to please call the State Police at 465-3154.
Clara Reeder (by POA) to James L. Reeder and Mary Alice Reeder, in Herrick Township for $12,800.
Joseph W. Walsh and Mary E. Walsh to James VanMetre and Jacqueline Lesser, in Herrick Township and Union Dale Borough for $175,000.
Stuart M. Rogers (aka) Stuart Rogers, Helen Jane Rogers to Eileen Myer, in Forest Lake Township for $56,250.
Bernard J. Coggins Jr. (estate) to Brittany Coggins (by guardian), in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Joseph A. Monteforte to Joseph A. Monteforte and Linda L. Monteforte, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Joseph A. Monteforte to Joseph A. Monteforte Sr. and Linda L. Monteforte, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Roger R. Valentine (aka/estate) Roger R. Valentine Sr. (est), Roger R. Valentine Jr., Diane Valentine, Judy A. Conklin, John L. Conklin III, Joan M. Johnson, Douglas Johnson to Martin H. Brown and Kathy M. Brown, in Hallstead Borough for $72,000.
Merrill R. McClure and Rose H. McClure to William D. Kieswer, in Liberty Township for $20,000.
Kathleen D. Ryan (nbm) Kathleen D. Venne, and Joseph G. Venne to Elsie Cecchini, in Auburn Township for $52,000.
George W. Freeland and Patricia A. Freeland to Matthew P. Sellers and Denise L. Sellers, in Bridgewater Township for $45,000.
Dorothy Hoholick to John D. Hoholick, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Patricia C. Bidlake and Lawrence Bidlake to Patricia Bidlake, in Dimock Township for one dollar.
Dean A. Johnson and Valerie Johnson to Carl A. Drechsler and Darlene Drechsler, in Oakland Township for $77,500.
Cheryl Purtell to Cheryl Purtell and Daniel J. Purtell in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.
Rosanne Fearnley and Marie Episale to William E. Specht III, in Liberty Township for $86,000.
Jerry Ingoglia (Rev Liv Trust by Trustee) to Paul Satunas and Susan Satunas, in Gibson Township for $140,000.
Rachael Adornato to Melissa A. Chandler, in Susquehanna for $42,500.
William Leidemann, Debra Maddox, Michael Leidemann, Helen Leidemann, Ellizabeth Manger to Timothy G. Edwards, in Forest City for $57,000.
Michael C. Hess (by sheriff) to Morris C. Baker and Nancy Baker, in Forest Lake Township for $20,000.
Mary Madigan (fka) Mary M. Beikirch, Richard J. Allman, Kathleen M. Allman, and Julianne Madigan to Mary Madigan, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Janet Lea Soboleski (by attorney) to Jeffrey V. Ferguson and Cynthia L. Ferguson, in New Milford Township for $32,000.
Franklin C. Rauch to Joseph F. Ochse, in Bridgewater Township for $80,000.
John Lopatofsky and Joseph G. Lopatofsky to Thomas J. Lopatofsky Jr., in Clifford Township for $120,000.
Harold E. Tuttle to Richard W. Jones and Karen A. Jones, in Harford Township for $120,000.
Donna M. Fekette, Thomas J. Lopatofsky to Janice E. Menges, in New Milford Township for $170,000.
Alfred Jefferson Hall II and Jane Warrington Smith Hall to Steven Ressel and Nancy L. Ressel, in Gibson Township for $65,000.
Dolores M. Wenger to William VanDeinse, in Jackson Township for $53,000.
James P. Purkey to James P. Purkey and Sally Blizzard, in Auburn Township for one dollar.
Christopher C. Morse, Linda A. Morse to Steven Portuese, in Harford Township for $8,000.
Diana M. Sena to Susan L. Stone and Philip T. Wetzel Jr., in Montrose for $80,000.
Mary L. Lombardo to Rose Sasso, in Apolacon Township for $25,000.
Irene Harris to Jakub Lekach, in Clifford Township for one dollar.
Barbara A. Reynolds (nbm) Barbara A. Malloy and Frederick J. Malloy to Richard M. Hawk Sr. and Vanessa R. Hawk, in Bridgewater Township for $150,000.
Gene A. Ridge to Frank F. Mittmann and Fred F. Mittmann in Franklin Township for $37,500.
Brian C. Lathrop and Susan Lathrop to Fred F. Mittmann, in Montrose for $85,000.
Lisa R. Richardson to Donald L. Richardson, in New Milford Borough for one dollar. Donald L. Richardson and Lisa R. Richardson to Donald L. Richardson, in Hallstead Borough for one dollar.
Jeremy J. Burdick, Oxford, NY, and Christina A. Dickens, Oxford, NY.
Robert G. Knobel, Canada, and Cynthia Marie Pruss, Canada.
Matthew S. Beasley, Meshoppen and Suzanne E. Atticks, Meshoppen.
Harold Gaus Jr., Union Dale, and Danielle Louise Ross, Union Dale.
Nicholas J. Stasko, Johnson City, NY, and Alexandra L. Roma, Friendsville.
Anthony Todd Tuttle, Kernersville, NC and Beverly Ann ONeil, Kernersville, NC.
Joseph Anthony Forentino Jr., Montrose, and Kimberly A. Rought, Dimock, PA.
One county commissioner has come forward in support of county EMA Co-Coordinator Dawn Watson, but the other two appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach pending input from the new Susquehanna County Emergency Advisory Committee (SCEAC).
"Right now," said Commissioner Jeff Loomis at a press conference last week, "I believe in giving Dawn a chance to come up to accounting standards and I am not in favor of getting rid of Dawn at all. Thats my personal opinion, I cannot speak for the other two (commissioners)."
Rumors concerning Mrs. Watsons status began to surface recently in the wake of the commissioners decision to create SCEAC. Since the commissioners agreed to scrap a proposed SCEAC mission statement, the committees duties are vague but it is believed that one of its assignments will be to serve as a watchdog group that will monitor the goings on inside the Emergency Management offices and make recommendations to the commissioners.
"She has been here long enough," said Mr. Loomis in defense of Mrs. Watson, "and she has an understanding of the office. There is a tremendous amount of difficulty associated with that office now. She has had some problems but it is hard for one person to do everything."
Mr. Loomis said the commissioners have talked to Kimball Associates about establishing standard operational procedures for Mrs. Watson to follow. Recently the county engaged the services of Kimball Associates to address the physical and operational aspects of the countys 9-1-1 System and to assist in identifying sources of federal and state grants available for the 9-1-1 System.
Roberta Kelly, chair of the three-member Board of Commissioners, was not as talkative as Mr. Loomis.
"We cannot really comment on that," Mrs. Kelly replied when asked about the status of Mrs. Watson. "We are trying to do the best we can to alleviate what has been going on in there. We heard things and there are issues.
"We are hopefully getting the advisory board (SCEAC) in place and we will listen to concerns and complaints but right now I do not know what we are going to do."
Mrs. Kelly pointed out that the final decision rests with the commissioners and that they will "look very closely at anything that comes in." But she also acknowledged that the commissioners have given a number of issues to SCEAC and they will pay close attention to what that committee has to report.
Minority Commissioner MaryAnn Warren said the commissioners are "asking for accountability from the department." She said nothing has been missing and the commissioners are not alleging any wrongdoings but simply want documentation on spending.
"Nobody is saying there is anything wrong," Mr. Loomis added. "We want a more accurate report. We need to know how much money is spent and where it goes."
Mr. Loomis said Mrs. Watson will be taught how to develop spread sheets for the grants to make it easier to account for all expenditures. He said Mrs. Watson supports the spread sheet system.
In another matter, at last weeks meeting, the commissioners said work on the elevator is under way and the completion date is Jan. 23, 2005.
Taking sorely needed space from the Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts offices has necessitated some juggling and the commissioners have developed a plan for dealing with the problem.
The Area Agency on Aging will be moving from the Courthouse Annex (Warner School) to new facilities and that will open up some office space. The individual offices of the three commissioners will be located where the AAA is now. In turn, the Recorder/Register of Deeds will take the present office space used by the commissioners and that will allow the Prothonotary/Clerk of Courts to use a large office adjoining its now cramped facilities.
Because the wall currently separating the commisssioners offices from Register/Recorder of Deeds is a main supporting wall, Mr. Loomis said an architectural engineer will be brought in to make certain the proposed changes will not damage the structural integrity of the building.
The commissioners named Nicholas Conigliaro as assistant warden at the county jail. Mr. Conigliaro succeeds the late William Gregory who passed away on Aug. 23. Mr. Gregory was 46 years old and resided in Montrose.
Mr. Conigliaro is 25 years old and a resident of Hallstead. He was graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice. He began working part-time as a corrections officer in 2002 and became a full-time employee in March of this year. The Salary Board set his starting salary of $27,000 plus benefits.
The Salary Board also set the salary for an open caseworker supervisor in Children and Youth at $33,966. The position will be advertised as per Civil Service requirements.
Amid preparations for the opening of school, the Blue Ridge School Board had big money at stake at its last summer session on August 23. A topic not on the agenda for the meeting was a slight problem with the funding of the fitness center that opened in the High School last Spring. Business Manager Loren Small must have been feeling proud of his foresight in asking the Board to include more than $60,000 in the new budget to pay for the equipment just in case the original funding scheme didn't pan out. It didn't.
An outfit based in American Fork, Utah called the National School Fitness Foundation (NSFF) talked over 600 school districts around the country - including 14 in Pennsylvania - into its Leadership In Fitness Training program. The idea was that schools would borrow locally to purchase exercise equipment from School Fitness Systems, and would be reimbursed for monthly payments on the loans by the foundation, which was supposed to be funded by contributions from major sources. Blue Ridge bought in to the tune of $221,940 for three years at 3.1%. It had been reimbursed for only two months of payments when in June the NSFF filed for bankruptcy following an investigation by Minnesota Attorney General Michael Hatch. Hatch characterized the operation as a classic "Ponzi scheme" (that involved some 19 Minnesota school districts in about $7 million of debt) whereby new money is constantly sought to pay off earlier obligations in a snowballing structure that must eventually collapse. The equipment vendor happened to be owned by a group of investors who also ran the foundation - into the ground, as it seems.
Superintendent Robert McNamara said that the fitness room is very popular, heavily used, and an important asset in the fight to control adolescent obesity. The incentive that got the Board to buy in - the free money offered by the NSFF - has now vanished, and the District will be using Mr. Small's set-aside at the rate of about $5,000 per month.
Another neat trick may allow Blue Ridge to slip another $6 million for expansion through a loophole in a new law passed this summer by the Pennsylvania legislature. Act 72 is a very complex piece of legislation that ties future school financing to other recently enacted legislation, broadening access to gambling in Pennsylvania (known as "gaming" in Harrisburg). A key feature of Act 72 is provision for oversight of school budgets through voter referendum in some cases, including borrowing heavily for construction. The act doesn't go into effect until September 3, however, so schools all around the state are rushing to plan multi-million-dollar projects in advance of the deadline so they won't have to go to the voters for permission.
Since none of this has been tested in court yet, there are a lot of uncertainties. Current opinion seems to think that a resolution of intent to borrow is enough to get in under the wire. And that is what the Blue Ridge Board passed at this meeting, in the form of a resolution and a motion to approve a bond purchase contract. Board President Alan Hall has been pushing a major expansion, particularly in the Elementary School, for several months. Four of the nine Board members have consistently opposed the move, but the five others were enough to get this phase through. Mr. Hall encouraged his troops by insisting that the Board "can't incur any debt without another vote," and that the Board by this action has "not approved any kind of building project." Responding at length to a question from an observer, Mr. Hall assured him that "under no circumstances is [the Board] willing to raise taxes for a building project."
Board member Priscinda Gaughan reminded her colleagues that interest rates are relatively low right now, and that most of the proposed project cost could be reimbursable from state funds. One purpose of the planning process (which alone could cost the District $45,000) is to determine the level of state subsidy that might be expected.
Member Harold Empett objected that the measure on the agenda (tacked on as an addendum at the last minute) was an attempt to get around the voter approval process that is explicit in the new law.
As passed, and described by the Board President, the motion is an expression of intent, but "not approval to borrow."
There was other business on the agenda.
A group of routine personnel actions included a warm welcome to Krista Bowman, appointed a full-time teacher in the Elementary School.
The Board retroactively approved the work of six teachers in the Classroom Plus summer program in the Elementary School that served 22 children. The purpose of the grant- funded program was to give extra attention by assigning no more than 6-8 students to a teacher.
The Board awarded some part of an annual $500 pool to Marika Merritt to help defray the cost of her participation in an International Summit of the People to People Leadership Forum. Ms. Merritt participated in the Leadership Forum in Washington, DC last year. This year she will extend her horizons to England, France and Belgium.
The Board accepted low bids from Butter Krust Baking Company, Hartt Dairy and Huff Ice Cream for food service products during the coming school year. The products will be served at meals priced as they were last year: Elementary School breakfast, $0.65; Elementary School lunch, $1.25; Middle and High School Breakfast, $0.75; Middle and High School lunch, $1.50; reduced price breakfast, $0.30; reduced price lunch, $0.35.
The District will hold a "silent auction" on September 18 to dispose of surplus furniture and equipment, including over 100 Elementary School desks, some computers, and other miscellaneous furniture. Inspection will be available beginning at 7:00 a.m. Mr. Small hopes to have all of the items gone by day's end.
All of the administrators had high praise for the work of the maintenance and cleaning staff over the summer. Said Mr. McNamara, "It's been a busy campus" all summer. "I don't think the school itself has had any down time." Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz said, "Our school looks the best I've ever seen it."
High School Principal Michael Thornton told the Board that its next meeting will consider changes to the driver education program that may cost more money, but produce better, safer drivers. He also hopes to offer a special focus on teenage pregnancy through the Guidance Office. And the High School will dedicate one evening to a "Kid Safe" program, concentrating on student safety and security, with an open house and presentations by the courts, police and fire agencies, and possibly the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
The focus on safety will continue in the Middle School's Behavior Assessment Committee, which will emphasize drug and alcohol issues, according to Principal John Manchester.
Mr. Dietz reported 85 children enrolled so far in the kindergarten, up substantially from last year. The kindergarten tries to minimize the size of its classes, which may mean additional faculty this year. He also proudly reported results of the May PSSA tests (state standardized testing) that showed almost 63% of the 5th grade reading at a proficient or advanced level, and about 62% performing at or above proficient in math.
Mr. McNamara hopes to put on another "media night" with a movie and snacks for youngsters and their families, an initiative that began last Spring. He also hopes to add a dance program for the Elementary School, with perhaps 2 classes per week, after hours.
Following the meeting Mr. McNamara said that although enrollments are trending downward in all schools in the area (Mr. Empett said some 20-30 per year overall in each of the past 4 years at Blue Ridge), the extra space in the proposed expansion is to be able to accommodate all of the programs now offered at the school.
Of course the popular fitness room is one of those new programs with its own space. That innovation pushed the wrestlers out into a rented "temporary" structure. And it remains to be seen if greater gambling opportunities will produce more revenue from the state to offset recent property tax reforms. For the most part local property taxpayers are also voters, who may soon have a more direct say in the way their schools are financed. And all that may pit the referendum against the representative form of governance embodied in local school boards.
If you want to have a say right now, you can see the Blue Ridge School Board in action at its next public business meeting on Monday, September 13, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.